Manfred says there might not be an MLB season
NEW YORK (AP) — Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred says there may be no major league games this year after a breakdown in talks between teams and the players' union on how to split up money in a season delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The league also revealed several players have tested positive for COVID-19.
Two days after union head Tony Clark declared additional negotiations futile, Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem sent a seven-page letter to players’ association chief negotiator Bruce Meyer asking the union whether it will waive the threat of legal action and tell MLB to announce a spring training report date and a regular-season schedule.
These were just the latest escalating volleys in a sport viewing disagreement over starting the season as a preliminary battle ahead of bargaining to replace the labor contract that expires on Dec. 1, 2021.
In other baseball news:
— Major League Baseball has delayed the start of the new international signings period from July 2 until Jan. 15, a move that will cause teams to push back deals of 16- and 17-year-old Latin American prospects. MLB says the current signings year, scheduled to end Monday, had been extended until Oct. 15. There has been a transaction freeze since March 28, and any agreements between the end of the freeze and Oct. 15 will count for the 2019-20 signings year. No international amateurs can be signed from Oct. 15 until the new period opens on Jan. 15.
NFL commissioner Goodell encourages team to sign Kaepernick
UNDATED (AP) — Roger Goodell would like to see Colin Kaepernick back in the NFL this season.
The NFL commissioner said during ESPN’s “The Return of Sports” special on Monday that he is encouraging teams to sign the 32-year old quarterback, who hasn’t played the past three seasons.
Kaepernick was with the San Francisco 49ers in 2016 when he kneeled during the national anthem to protest racial injustice.
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said last week that he received a call from another team about Kaepernick. Carroll and the Seahawks brought in Kaepernick for a workout in 2017 and had another planned in 2018 before it was canceled.
Goodell set up a tryout for Kaepernick in Atlanta last year for scouts of all 32 teams to attend, but it unraveled at the last moment due to lack of media access and what Kaepernick's representatives saw as an unusual liability waiver.
In other NFL news:
— Ravens linebacker Matthew Judon criticized the timing of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s assertion that “black lives matter” to the league, saying the message should have been delivered long ago. Speaking in a video conference call with the Baltimore media, Judon said Goodell's comments on June 5 were long overdue. Judon said Goodell should have addressed the issue when he was named commissioner and when he was re-elected to the post. Judon said the Ravens are discussing the best way to protest racism when they start playing the 2020 season.
— The San Francisco 49ers have rewarded coach Kyle Shanahan with a new six-year contract after he took the team to the Super Bowl in his third season at the helm. The Niners are replacing the three years remaining on Shanahan’s original six-year contract signed in 2017 to keep him under contract through 2025. ESPN first reported the new extension.
— New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins is joining CNN as a contributor focusing on racial and social justice. Jenkins says he believes he can “be a voice for other athlete activists and those who have dedicated their lives" to promoting equality through legislation and other reforms. Jenkins is an 11-year NFL veteran out of Ohio State who has won Super Bowls with both New Orleans and the Philadelphia Eagles. Jenkins says his motivation to join CNN stems from his experience addressing inequalities in criminal justice and educational systems affecting members of "marginalized communities.”
Cowboys star Elliott tests positive
UNDATED (AP) — The agent for Ezekiel Elliott says the star running back of the Dallas Cowboys has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Rocky Arceneaux tells the NFL Network Elliott is feeling OK and recovering.
A person with direct knowledge of the diagnosis tells The Associated Press that Elliott had the positive test about a week ago and could be described as symptomatic.
Only players who have been rehabilitating injuries have been allowed inside team facilities during the shutdown. That hasn’t included Elliott.
PGA Championship staying at Harding Park, but without fans
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — There were no fans at Colonial for the return of the PGA Tour. Now get ready for no fans at a major championship.
The PGA of America has submitted plans to hold the PGA Championship at Harding Park in August with no fans. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that public health officials have approved the plan.
An announcement is expected as early as Tuesday.
It at least answers one question for the PGA Championship, which is scheduled for Aug. 6-9. The PGA of America had said moving it from Harding Park was a possibility depending on the COVID-19 pandemic.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-US OPEN
USTA plans US Open without fans
NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. Tennis Association intends to hold the U.S. Open in New York starting in August without spectators if it gets governmental support. A formal announcement could come this week.
The operational plan to hold the event amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic includes no spectators, limited player entourages, centralized housing, increased cleaning at the tournament grounds in Flushing Meadows and testing for COVID-19.
Also part of the plan: There would be no qualifying for singles, and the Cincinnati tournament that is scheduled for earlier in August would move to New York ahead of the U.S. Open.
If played, the U.S. Open would be the second of three Grand Slam events this year.
NASCAR wants 30,000 fans at All-Star race in Tennessee
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — NASCAR is set to allow up to 30,000 fans at the track in Bristol next month when it moves the All-Star race out of Charlotte Motor Speedway for just the second time in the history of the race.
If the expected attendance count holds, NASCAR would open to the largest gathering of sports fans in the United States in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic __ all while numbers in some states continue to spike.
NASCAR is set to brush off those concerns and open the gates in Tennessee. Bristol holds about 146,000 fans.
The recent spike of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina sparked the move to Bristol Motor Speedway. The race will remain on the July 15 date with a 7 p.m. start time.
WNBA SEASON START
WNBA plans 22-game season
NEW YORK (AP) — The WNBA has announced plans to play an abbreviated 22-game season in Florida beginning in late July.
The league is still finalizing a partnership with IMG Academy in Bradenton to play the games at the facility and possibly others nearby. Players would be housed at IMG and teams would hold training camps there as well. The games would be played with no fans in attendance.
The WNBA would use its regular playoff format, with the top eight teams making the postseason and the first two rounds being single-elimination. The top two seeds would have byes until the semifinals. The postseason would end in early October.
A 36-game season that was supposed to start May 15 was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Qatar launches 3rd World Cup venue, flags virus precautions
UNDATED (AP) — The chief organizer of the 2022 Qatar World Cup says he is consulting with the English Premier League and Bundesliga to learn about how they are dealing with the coronavirus.
Hassan Al-Thawadi’s comments underscore how sports are taking into account the potential for ongoing health precautions at events, if there is no vaccine for COVID-19.
The Bundesliga resumed last month and the Premier League’s 100-day shutdown ends on Wednesday, with fans prohibited from stadiums in Germany and England.
The Qatar World Cup does not start until November 2022. The 40,000-capacity Education City stadium is the third venue to be completed.
In other virus-related sports news:
— The Champions League final is heading to Lisbon. UEFA plans an Aug. 23 final to cap seven broadcast nights in a 12-day span of elite European teams playing knockout soccer. UEFA's widely reported wish for an eight-team knockout bracket in two empty stadiums in Portugal’s capital has been confirmed by broadcaster Sky Italia. UEFA’s executive committee must agree on the plan on Wednesday. It's rescheduling international soccer for Europe’s clubs and national teams after the coronavirus pandemic upended the calendar.
— Michigan’s athletic department says football and basketball players are welcome back on campus starting this week if they choose to take part in voluntary strength and conditioning work. Michigan says its process for reopening the athletic campus includes a 14-day pre-report risk assessment and a six-day resocialization period to campus. The resocialization period includes COVID-19 and antibody testing. Players and staff will have daily screening before being admitted to facilities. People who test positive for COVID-19 will enter a defined quarantine protocol.
— Iowa’s athletic department has reported two positive COVID-19 tests during the second week of its return-to-campus protocol. The school has not disclosed whether it was athletes, coaches or staff members who tested positive. In the two weeks since Iowa began testing, there have been three positives and 343 negatives. According to an Associated Press count, at least 45 athletes, coaches or staff members at a total of 17 schools have tested positive in June.
— A football player at West Virginia has tested positive for the coronavirus, the school said Monday on the first day of voluntary workouts. The school’s athletic department said in a statement that contact tracing identified other football players who could have been exposed to the athlete. Both the player who tested positive and the others he may have been in contact with will isolate themselves for 14 days, the statement said.
FIFA-TAKING A KNEE
FIFA urges 'tolerance' after Trump's anthem kneeling rebuke
FIFA has appealed for “tolerance, mutual respect and common sense” after President Donald Trump denounced the annulment of a policy that required soccer players to stand during the national anthem.
Trump tweeted Saturday that “I won’t be watching much anymore!” Trump retweeted a tweet by Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz (gaytz) who wrote: “I’d rather the US not have a soccer team than have a soccer team that won’t stand for the National Anthem.”
It was United States captain Megan Rapinoe kneeling in support of Colin Kaepernick that led to the U.S. Soccer Federation adopting the rule in 2017.
AMERICA PROTESTS-COLLEGE SPORTS
Gundy's OAN support angers star Oklahoma St RB Chuba Hubbard
UNDATED (AP) — Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard said on Twitter that he won’t do anything with the program until there is change after coach Mike Gundy was photographed wearing a t-shirt representing far-right online publication One America News Network.
Gundy is seen in a photograph on Twitter wearing the t-shirt with the letters OAN. The conservative publication is a strong advocate for President Donald Trump.
Hubbard, who usually doesn’t Tweet much, has been more active lately since Minneapolis police killed George Floyd. He has been supportive of protests around the world, especially of those in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, near his hometown.
— The Big Ten has created a voter registration initiative to go along with its Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition. The conference hopes its 14 schools and thousands of student-athletes can leverage their platform to spur social change. Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren says he hopes the nonpartisan program will encourage student-athletes to become part of the electoral process. It will include participants from each Big Ten school with monthly programming, beginning in July and ending with the general election in November.
Lawsuit seeks to prevent NCAA from limiting athletes’ income
UNDATED (AP) — Attorneys have filed a lawsuit against the NCAA in federal court. It seeks to prevent the association from limiting the amount of money athletes can make off their names, images and likenesses.
Arizona State swimmer Grant House and Oregon women’s basketball player Sedona Prince are the plaintiffs. The suit seeks class-action status.
The legal challenge comes as the NCAA is the process of changing its rules to allow college athletes to earn money from third parties for things such as social media endorsements, sponsorship deals and personal appearances.
Vegas Golden Knights sign Reaves to $3.5M, 2-year extension
LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Vegas Golden Knights have signed tough guy Ryan Reaves to a two-year contract extension worth $3.5 million.
He’ll count $1.75 million against the salary cap in each of the next two seasons. Reaves announced the new deal in a video on the Golden Knights’ Twitter page.
“There’s two things I haven’t accomplished: No. 1 haven’t won a Stanley Cup, No. 2 haven’t won a scoring title,” Reaves said. “Now, I can win a Stanley Cup this year. I can do it. Can’t win the scoring title. Can’t do it. Just missed it by a couple points.”
The 33-year-old from Winnipeg had eight goals and seven assists for 15 points — 95 short of Leon Draisaitl's league-leading 110. Reaves did lead the NHL with 316 hits in 71 games this season.
Tokyo Olympic board member would support another delay
TOKYO (AP) — An executive board member of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee says another delay should be sought if the games can't be held next year.
The Tokyo Olympics were to be held this year but were postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The suggestion comes from Haruyuki Takahashi in an interview with the Japanese sports newspaper Nikkan Sports.
Takahashi says the main priority should be to make a "united effort to hold them (Olympics) in the summer of 2021.” He says if that is not possible “we should start action once again to get another delay.”
IOC President Thomas Bach and organizing committee President Yoshiro Mori have said the games will be canceled if they can't happen next year.
Strength coach departs Iowa after accusations of mistreating African Americans
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Chris Doyle is out as Iowa’s football strength and conditioning coach. He and the university have agreed to a separation agreement paying him more than $1.1 million.
Doyle was accused by former players of mistreating African American players. Offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, son of head coach Kirk Ferentz, and assistant defensive coordinator Seth Wallace also have been alleged to have made inappropriate comments to players.
The university says a law firm has been hired to conduct an independent review of the football program.
NBA’s Durant now part-owner of MLS team
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant has joined the ownership group of Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union.
The 10-time NBA All-Star has a 5% ownership stake, with an option for 5% more in the near future.
The Union will partner with Durant’s Thirty Five Ventures, a firm he runs with sports executive Rich Kleiman, to grow the team’s profile and community outreach through the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation.